Republicans tend to win elections when voter turnout is low. That is why you see the Republican Party implementing voter suppression across the country. By forcing residents to use photo ID in order to vote, for example, the Republican Party can essentially drive down voter turnout by excluding people who do not have access to photo identification. These people tend to be in a lower socioeconomic status and they also tend to vote Democrat.
But the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, and his secretary of state Ken Detzner have come up with a completely new way of suppressing the vote in their swing state — running out the clock.
Florida is famous for flawed elections. Whenever there is a dispute about the validity of certain votes, the state turns to the courts. The courts generally set a timeline in order to resolve the issue. If the issue is not resolved by the deadline, the original ruling stands. And Florida’s Secretary of State knows this all too well.
The dispute is over mail-in ballots. Many registered Democrats have voted early in the state of Florida which bodes well for Hillary Clinton but the Republican governor and his secretary of state are trying to suppress the early mail-in vote. They have contested the validity of any mail-in vote in which the dual signatures do not match.
Each mail-in ballot requires two signatures. These two signatures need to match up, but many believe the standards for this match are too high. It appears to many to be an attempt to suppress the vote by setting an unreachable standard.
Republicans want these mismatch signature mail-in ballots to be void. But Democrats argue that the voters should have a chance to remedy their poor signatures. They point to a long-standing law that a mail-in ballot which is not signed can be signed later in order for that ballot count. The argument states that people who have signed their ballots poorly should have the same rights as those who did not sign their ballots at all. Many of those with poor signatures are elderly people with health issues that affect their handwriting.
The lawsuit that seeks to count these dual signature mail-in ballots was filed by Florida’s Democratic Party. The lawsuit states that Florida County canvassing boards rejected over 23,000 mail-in votes for this reason during the 2012 presidential election. The lawsuit also claims that tens of thousands of mail-in votes are at risk of not being counted during this cycle.
Florida’s Secretary of State was called into a hearing by the Tallahassee-based federal judge. Detzner’s office then asked for an extension — one week. After the week was over, Detzner’s office told the judge that they had no further information or witnesses to call. It was an obvious tactic to stall the hearing in hopes the clock ran out on the situation.
But the federal judge stepped in to instruct the state of Florida to remedy the issue and reprimanded the governor and the Secretary of State for stalling. The federal judge stated that the Republican Party of Florida was committing an “undeclared war’ on Florida voters’ rights. The Judge wrote:
“If one were skeptical, it would appear that the Florida Secretary of State requested as much time as he felt he could possibly justify so that he could use every second available to run out the clock. And by wasting a week on his scintillating response, he quite nearly succeeded.”
The federal judge has issued a preliminary an injunction in order to allow the Democratic Party to count the votes in question. Voter suppression averted, for now.